~e; hope for US Energy Policy

From bc <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Fri, 23 Nov 2001 20:22:39 -0600

  [the following is a remarkable speech, at least to me, and it gives me some
  small shred of hope that the energy-future could transform the possibilities
  for the present. i wrote US Energy Secretary Abraham, and cc'd these lists,
  prior to Sept 11th, and this speech was on Oct 25th, 2001. what's interesting
  is that the US Energy Plan is now for the 21st century, 100 years, long-
  range. it talks about distributed energy systems, energy security
  and about deploying proven renewable power sources to the market. so too,
  smaller powerplants, the fact of 66% energy inefficienct systems, and some
  of the technologies that have been used in trials around the country. my hope
  is that the coast-to-coast energy superhighway that is discussed is some
  kind of superconducting cable, so energy losses are almost nil compared to
  traditional transmission technologies. and a critique to add would be that it
  is of necessity to educate citizens, not through magic boxes of technology,
  but by understanding how the energy systems work, such as fuel cells and
  the grid itself. being well jaded and a sordid skeptic of all things going on,
  i wish and hope and desparately plead that the US Administration will bring
  these possibities forward. one thing that people do not have today is choice,
  a way to make a different and better choice. but if these choices/options
  are put before people, through policy initiatives, through educational r&d,
  through community grants, it is very well possible that people _will_ do
  what is in the best interests of everyone. and i would be surprised and also
  very thankful of any serious efforts, as difficult as it may be, to usher in
  a redesigned energy infrastructure, for the good of both the public
and private
  sectors. please destiny, please let it happen...  bring the future
back home. bc
  ref. public energy network http://www.electronetwork.org/works/pen/
  this post cc'd to the dept of energy bulletin board e-mail form...]

Text of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham's Speech at the First Annual
Energy Efficiency Summit, October 25, 2001

http://www.ase.org/stars/Spencerspeech.htm  [Alliance to Save Energy website]

As we all know, this has been a very interesting year when it comes
to energy policy. The California Energy crisis. . . the President's
National Energy Plan, gas prices spike in late spring and, more
recently, much lower crude oil prices than most experts would have
predicted earlier this year. It would be easy to get caught up in the
ups and downs, and the day-to-day functions. But, it is far more
important tot tackle the energy challenges we face on a comprehensive
and long-term basis.

This is exactly how we approached the President's National Energy
Plan. And it is one reason why I am so optimistic about our energy
future. Because, when you look beneath the gloomy headlines, there
are some fundamentals about our economy, our entrepreneurs, our
technological genius that suggest that sound and long-term energy
policies can ensure affordable, plentiful, clean and efficiently
produced and employed energy for generations to come.

Achieving that future is what I would like to discuss with you today.
But it requires a serious conversation about the challenges we face.

Reduced to its core, I believe we must confront and solve five great

First, we are well on our way toward a dangerous dependence on a
single, depleteable, source of electricity-natural gas.

Second, our emphasis on conservation to date has centered too much on
government mandates and not enough on market-based incentives.

Third, our heavy reliance on fossil fuels leaves us increasingly
dependent on foreign nations for oil and gas, with serious national
security implications.

Fourth, our energy infrastructure - the transmission lines and
pipelines that move electricity, gas and oil, - is wholly inadequate
to meet our needs in the 21st century.

And, finally, our national research and development investments
continue to focus primarily on sources of energy-like solar and
wind-that are fairly mature, and not sufficiently on promising
breakthroughs that could revolutionize our production and use of

Meeting the Challenge

The national energy blueprint we unveiled in May deals with each of
these challenges.

The President's Plan confronts our increasing reliance on a single
fuel - natural gas - by paving the way for a more desirable balance
among many sources of energy. We need to look to renewables like
biomass and geothermal, as well as to more traditional sources like
clean coal and nuclear. By using technology to increase the
efficiency of those sources, we can get more energy and more economic
productivity with less impact on our environment and on our

Our Plan promotes energy efficiency and conservation, not by simply
relying on government mandates but by making intelligent use of new
technologies and information that allow consumers and energy
providers to save energy in ways that support economic growth. It
relies on energy efficiency and conservation to carry the bulk of
meeting our future demand. And as I will outline later, we share many
of this organization's long-term visions for energy efficiency.

Our Plan confronts our increasing dependence on a limited number of
foreign sources of energy by calling for the diversification of our
foreign sources of energy and increased domestic production that
relies on new technologies that again dramatically reduce the impact
on the environment.

Our Plan confronts our antiquated energy infrastructure with new
technologies that allow us to send more and more energy over smaller
and smaller lines.

Finally, our Plan addresses the challenges we face in research and
development by increasing the movement of mature technologies - like
solar, wind and geothermal energy - to the market while we
concentrate more resources on promising technologies that represent
the next wave.

You will notice that the promise of technology undergirds the central
elements of our plan. In almost every instance, the President's Plan
recognizes - indeed, embraces - the potential of high technology.

And we rely upon the genius of the entrepreneur both for our
production gains and for the strides we need to make in conservation
and energy efficiency. This marks a departure from much of the past
thinking on energy issues. We believe that a large part of the
solution to our challenges will be found, not just in government
councils, but in the efforts of the private sector where innovation
flourishes and risk takers push the envelope.

A 21st Century Vision for Energy

Much of the initial reaction to the President's plan was framed in
the stale terms of a stale debateŠProduction versus
conservationŠfossil fuels versus renewablesŠdrilling and mining
versus preserving the environmentŠNothing more than false choices and
a blinkered view of the possibilities.

But the most exciting part of the plan has garnered little notice and
this is the President's vision for the future beyond the next 20
years. Our plan is, after all, a plan for the entire 21st century.

So, this afternoon, I would like to describe a world -a more
optimistic world-a world in which the debates of today are rendered
largely irrelevant by a host of exciting new developments, ones that
many of you have been working to achieve.

We foresee a world of cleaner, smaller, and more efficient units of
power generation. We foresee more individual choice, more
competition, and a closer approximation of a true market for energy
in America. And we foresee increased reliability, increased supply,
and lower prices.

To achieve our vision of greater individual choice, our Plan embraces
exploring the idea of distributed energy.

The concept of distributed energy is broad, but at its essence it
means moving form our almost exclusive reliance on big power plants
toward smaller sources of power. . . toward a day when consumers can
respond to price signalsŠtoward smarter factories, buildings and

Distributed energy means moving away from a transmission system in
which power only flows one way-from a plant to your home-and,
instead, contemplates a two-way electricity grid where homes or
businesses can sell their surplus power back to the grid.

To accomplish this, we need investments in the electronic controls,
switchgears, inverters, and rectifiers that will give industrial,
commercial, and residential users some measure of independence from
the central grid.

In such a world, you could generate your own power with a
micro-turbine at home, and reap the benefits of our own efficiency by
conserving and selling excess power into the grid.

Distributed energy would increase reliability by ensuring that, if
something did happen to interrupt power on the grid, you could depend
on backup power-from virtually your own backyard. And it would also
increase energy efficiency by placing the source of power closer to
the consumer-thereby diminishing transmission and distribution line
losses of electricity.

Distributed energy also means moving away from our current
one-size-fits-all pricing system to one in which the internet or
other communication system allow consumers to use power efficiently
and reap the benefits of lower costs.

Right now, the typical energy bill has a set price per kilowatt-hour,
no matter when the electricity is used. But, of course, the basics of
supply and demand mean that power at certain times of day-peak usage
times-is more expensive.

The right technology allows us to go beyond this "one size fits all"
pricing to real-time pricing, letting consumers choose for themselves
when and how they use energy.

Puget Sound Energy in the State of Washington is doing just that.
Over 3000,000 customers in the Puget Sound area now pay for energy
based on the time of day they use it, instead of by a flat rate. Run
your dishwasher after 9 pm or do your laundry on Sunday, and you save

What's more, if consumers reduce their electric use 10% or more
compared to the previous year, the receive a 5-cent per kilowatt-hour
credit. And Puget Sound Energy customers receive an electric bill
that clearly spells out how much and when power was used and shows
how the price of kilowatt-hour fluctuates, leading to conservation
and savings.

Savings to the consumerŠgreater return to the utilityŠless strain on
the systemŠgreater energy efficiency and conservationŠeveryone wins.

Beyond Fossil Fuels - The Hope of Hydrogen

To achieve our vision of cleaner, smaller and more efficient sources
of energy, we will also expand our exploration of the role of fuel
cells and hybrid engines.

Fuel cells, which can run on hydrogen, or traditional fuels that
convert to hydrogen, offer the opportunity to address two different
challenges. First, they may serve as the backbone of the distributed
energy network I just discussed. Second, as the auto manufacturers
are already discovering, they offer the opportunity to dramatically
change the debate about fuel efficiency.

"Hybrid vehicles, powered by traditional combustion engines and
either batteries or fuel cells, already point toward a day when we
can significantly curtail our reliance on foreign oil.

Earlier this year, I glimpsed the future of fuel cells at DOE's
Argonne National Lab. They are getting smaller, more powerful, and
more useful, virtually every day. In just the past four years,
they've reduced the fuel processing system from the size f a minivan
to the size of a driver's seat in a minivan. And further advances are
certainly on the horizon.

Seeing these fuel cells convinced me that our vision, which embraces
the American commitment to a cleaner environment, provides a
realistic path toward the use of energy in the future.

For centuries, we have lived and prospered in carbon-based economy.
Fossil fuels powered ships, warmed homes, drove automobiles, fired
the revolution in flightŠand the revolution in information
technology. Energy sources like coal and oil once overcame an economy
based on horsepower. So, I suspect, our carbon-based economy may
itself pass from the scene to be replaced, perhaps, by hydrogen.

The President's Plan directs us to explore the possibility of such an
economy and such a future. The use of hydrogen - if realized - offers
the possibility of completely clean energy - its only byproduct is
water. And, since hydrogen is the most common element in the
universe, it offers an essentially limitless source of energy.

Energy Flowing Freely

Our vision of the future also embraces the idea that energy - and
particularly electricity - can and should flow freely among our
various states and without neighbors, Canada and Mexico.

Since President Bush took office in January, we have worked closely
with President Fox of Mexico and we discussed the great promise of a
hemispheric energy partnership. In particular, we are both looking at
ways to improve infrastructure and ways to improve the cross border
flow of energy. I can tell you he is very optimistic about the
prospect of energy cooperation that goes well beyond anything
considered in the past.

But unless we first tackle serious power generation and
infrastructure challenges here at home, there is just no way we can
thing about such a hemispheric energy partnership.

Doing this requires that we get serious about addressing the limits
to power generationŠlimits that brought California to its knees last
winter. And it requires addressing the need to move that power from
where it's generated to where it's needed most.

Our plan does these things. It would provide for a measure of common
sense regulatory certainty that will ensure that new generating
capacity comes on line. And it looks to a future with a national
transmission super highway that allows power to travel coast to coast
with the same ease as the family automobile. In short, it is a future
that looks far different from what we see today.

New Thinking on Conservation

Our vision of the future also imagines a broader view of how
conservation can help meet our energy security needs. Today, when
discussing conservation - or energy efficiency - we tend to be too
narrowly focused on the use of energy. But, while the use of energy
is important, it is only one side of the coin - we should also be
focused on the efficiency with which we produce power.

Consider this: We have an installed power-generating base of about
800 gigawatts that produces power at only about 33% efficiency. If we
increased that efficiency by just 7 percentage points - a very modest
goal - we would have eliminated the need for about 186 power plants
and reduced emissions at the same time.

This is precisely why we are promoting the expansion of the role of
such things as combined heat and power systems - systems that we know
can dramatically boost efficiency.

Addressing Differences

More individual choiceŠReliable and affordable electricity to power
our homes and businessesŠCleaner sources of energyŠDramatic gains in
energy efficiencyŠLess dependence on foreign energy sources. That is
the vision that President Bush has presented the American people. It
is a vision that relies on the creativity and ingenuity of many of
you here today.

And it is a vision that I think we can all embrace.

In closing, I want to speak for a moment about how I hope we can work
together as we move ahead. I was laughing the other day while going
through the clips getting ready for his talk. My staff had
highlighted some of the things the Alliance initially stated in
commenting on the President's energy proposal.

They included:

*	"The Bush Administration's energy plan is out of touch with
what the American people need."
*	"The plan is imbalanced - it provides lip services to energy
efficiency and saves all the heavy lifting for increasing energy
*	"An energy policy that only hints at energy efficiency and
overemphasizes supply."
*	"The Bush Administration has missed a major opportunity."

And my personal favorite:

*	"Who's the real #1 loser [in the Bush energy plan]? The
American people."

Now, let me be clear, my speech today was not intended to evoke
recantations of earlier remarks. I do hope, though, that you have
noted that the vision we've outlined here regarding our energy future
is very consistent on efficiency issues with your own. If so, let's
work together to identify the policies to make this vision a reality.

We have, after all, a common base of agreement. Energy efficiency and
conservation are linchpins in our plan for long-term energy security.

In the area of energy efficiency, our agenda includes many of the
very things you advocate. But, clearly, circumstances require that
our agenda be a bit broader than just energy efficiency.

Attaining the energy security Americans deserve and will demand in
the uncertain geopolitical future ahead, requires us to move beyond
the stale debate of supply only or conservation only options.
Contrary to some claims, we are not the Department of Unnecessary
Energy Usage any more than you are the Alliance to Prevent Energy
Production. So, to me it makes a lot of sense for us to work together
to accomplish the energy efficiency objectives I have outlined here.

David Garman, my assistant secretary for energy efficiency and
renewable energy is doing a fantastic job. I want you to work with
him and with me to accomplish these goals.


I have had the opportunity to work this year with many of the folks
in this room. I have been struck by how many exciting ideas are out
there that address the challenges we face. I have been impressed by
the commitment so many of you have made to ensuring America's energy

I think, at this moment in time especially, that America deserves the
best we can offer. The old rules of political engagement, of
smashmouth confrontation and zero sum choices should no longer be
tolerated, whether in the energy debate or any other. I propose we
seek to set the tone for this new era. Working together, let's secure
a stable and safe energy future for all Americans and demonstrate to
others in the public policy arena that we can surmount areas of
disagreement to achieve positive results.

Thank you.

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